7 January 2013 5:32 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Does ITV's new Sunday-evening offering, starring Jeremy Piven, do the business for fans of ITV period drama?

It's hard to know whether to feel sorry for ITV1's Mr Selfridge's predicament. Or to envy it. Because this is a series that will be relentlessly compared to its glossy period drama stablemate Downton Abbey. That could be a good thing. Surely it's not possible for a series to be more ridiculous than Julian Fellowes' tweed-clad, bandage-faced, car-crashing baby? (And I say that with affection for that peculiarly fated baby.) Or it could be a bad thing. Because Downton is so massively successful that how could anything else ever compare.

Luckily it turns out Mr Selfridge is in a league of its own. With screenwriter extraordinaire Andrew Davies on board, you'd expect that. Happily (or, possibly, sadly), there were none of the anachronistic howlers or demented plot twists that Downton serves up on a platter. »

- Viv Groskop

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